A third-generation cognac family, brother and sister team Max and Sophie von Olfers have successfully established the number-one destination site for Cognac lovers globally.
Cognac Expert features over 800 different Cognacs for sale and ships globally. Their vision from the start was to create visibility for Cognac-producing farmers and families in the region who didn’t have international reach and distribution networks.
“Our family roots in Cognac extend back three generations,” explained Sophie. “Our grandparents acquired an agricultural property in the Cognac region—our grandfather also farmed Cognac vineyards. Since we can remember, friends and neighbors have made Cognac and shared their secrets with us. We have learned from the most experienced farmers, distillers, blenders, and merchants. These people are the very heart and soul of Cognac; they operate on traditions that have been passed down to them for generations. We are both deeply attached to this part of the world, and to Cognac production in particular, which is present in all areas of life here.”
Their timing couldn’t be better for Cognac Expert, which had a record-breaking year in the United States in 2018, according to data released by the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac, shipping 205.9 million bottles globally—officially shaking the stuffy, old-man image Cognac may have once had.
“We never believed that Cognac was only for old men,” noted Sophie. “It seems this was a branding accident that happened somewhere down the line. Cognac is loved by old and young, and it can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Some may prefer a mature blend that is served neat, while others drink their Cognac young and in a mixed drink. It will always be a luxury spirit, purely thanks to the amount of time and effort that goes into its making. An XO Cognac, for example, has to be blended with eaux-de-vie that has been aged in oak barrels for at least 10 years. Cognac requires time, and time is luxury.”
The von Olfers have released a signature line of limited edition Cognacs with the purpose of attracting global interest for artisanal Cognac producers. For their latest collaboration, Sélection N° 2, they selected an EXTRA Cognac, created and specially bottled by Domaine de Birius. “What is unique about Sélection N° 2 is that it is blended from only three vintages, and therefore impossible to recreate once it’s gone,” said Sophie. “The Cognac has a distinct, ‘pure and dry’ taste profile, comprised of three outstanding vintages: 1975, 1982, and 1989. Remarkable for a Cognac of its age, Sélection N° 2 is characterized by its freshness and is less sweet and fruitier than its precursor, Sélection N° 1. Featuring a round and elegant palate, it boasts only a touch of spice and a dry finish with a hint of smoke, with flavors of pear wine, saffron, pepper, and clove.”
As for how the duo enjoys their Cognac in cocktails, Sophie’s favorite summer drink is the Stinger, a combination of Cognac and white crème de menthe. “It is absolutely delicious and refreshing. Prepare a large quantity in a pitcher for the perfect, no-frills cocktail hour,” she said. Max, meanwhile, loves the Mint-Julep au Cognac: Simply exchange the bourbon with Cognac in your preferred recipe.